I have just had a complete rave about this topic on Flickr (Cupcakes TakeThe Cake forum), but it really does deserve another mention!
On the recommendation of another Flickr contributor (Mommawants1more... I have always wondered wht she wants one more of... cupcake?... baby?... minute of sleep?) I recently purchased Kaye and Liv Hansen's book 'The Whimsical Bakehouse' (pic below). Without a word of a lie, it is FANTASTIC!!!
I really only bought the book because I wanted to learn how to make the chocolate decorations that I had seen on other people's cupcakes, on Flickr... but it has soooo much more to share!!! It's even helped me to overcome my inability to pipe buttercream blossoms (almost)
If you're interested... here are the Publisher's Notes...
Three neon-bright layers of cake, tilted at a jaunty angle and adorned with edible chocolate candles; a Jackson Pollock–inspired cheesecake spattered with chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter icing; and a swarm of plump bees perched atop a rainbow of candy-colored cupcakes—these are only a few examples of the unfettered creativity at work at the Riviera Bakehouse. There, mother-daughter bakers Kaye and Liv Hansen turn out some of the most charming, refreshingly eccentric cakes ever to grace a birthday or wedding celebration.Kaye and Liv believe that a cake should taste as good as it looks, so they skip esoteric (and inedible) decorations in favor of simple buttercream, flavored whipped cream, and tinted candymaker’s chocolate, covering their luscious cakes with amusing designs and gorgeous color that are easy to make and delicious to eat. The cakes themselves are no less enticing, pairing old-fashioned favorites like Banana Cake and Spice Cake with sumptuous fillings such as French Custard and Chocolate Mousse. Simple step-by-step lessons, illustrated with photographs, explain how to re-create Liv’s charming chocolate designs, from the bright polka dots that shine against dark chocolate glaze to the shimmering stars that adorn the enchanting “Starry Night.” Templates for the delightful designs allow you to adapt these techniques to create your own unique decorations.With time-tested tips and complete information on everything from mixing colors to adjusting pan sizes, the Hansens explain all you need to know to get started. Whether you’re dreaming of an elegant Chocolate Apricot Pecan Torte or a three-tiered butter cake filledwith spiked mocha cream and embellished with fantastical spring flowers, The Whimsical Bakehouse is the ultimate guide to creating delicious, showstopping confections that are completely original.
On the Barnes and Noble website, every review bar one is 4 or 5 star, and quite frankly the bad review is (in my opinion) unwarranted... but why take my word for it... you decide:
A reviewer, A reviewer, 09/24/2003
Not what I expected. I was looking for more of a variety in cake sytles. Everything is pretty much the same. Also got it for ideas on making my own wedding cake. Not that helpful there either.
Johnna Walley (firstname.lastname@example.org), a Wilton Cake Decorating Instructor, 08/13/2003
Seriously... with the picture that's on the front of it... would you be buying it for wedding cake ideas??? That's like Looking in a clown shop for your wedding gown!!!!
That said... there's certainly no reason why she couldn't have used some of the cake and filling recipes, but created a more traditional look for the outside!
Sorry... complete tangent with my little rant there... but it just pisses me off when people puchase something other than what they were looking for and then blame the product for not delivering... just because it didn't suit her purpose doesn't mean it is deserved a bad review.
Anyway... BACK TO THE BOOK!
I have (so far) made two lots of flowers using the books instructions; it is super easy and the results are bloody effective (Rave reviews from the hungry workmates on Monday)! I still have a little practice to do before I have it down pat (note to self: don't put your creations too close together- chocolate runs... and make sure your baking paper is completely flat - chocolate drys in the same shape as your paper... duuuh!) but then that's half the fun!!!!
Sooo... here they are... Vanilla sponge cupcakes with a lemon creamcheese icing and Whimsical Bakehouse inspired daisies! In case you're interested I have also put the recipe below (after a 3 month search I have finally found what I believe is the holy grail of vanilla cakes... but then that's just my opinion)!!!
8 oz Self Raising Flour
8 oz Castor Sugar
5 (extra) Large Eggs
8 oz Butter (So soft that it has almost melted)
2 tea Vanilla
4 tab sour cream (Australian tab = 20ml)(optional... just makes them that little bit more moist)
Set oven to 170 degrees celcius (as in my last post... golden rule of baking... make sure you own an oven thermometre... I can guarantee you your ovens in built thermostat is inaccurate).
Take large kitchen aid bowl... add all ingredients to bowl (in order listed above)... click bowl into kitchen aid and fit paddle attachment... turn on to lowest possible setting (be careful... your flour will try and jump out of the bowl... use a guard if you have one) until all ingredients are moist.... turn up to medium just long enough to ensure all ingredients are completely combined. The consistency will be fairly thick but it should drop easily from the spoon if you tap it on the side of the bowl.
Use icecream scoop to fill liners 1/2 to 3/4 full.
Bake 17 minutes... test by lightly touching top of cake... it should return to its original shape after a gentle press.
Those of you who are particularly astute will notice that this recipe is very VERY similar to the chocolate recipe that I posted the other day... well they're actually cousins!! I adapted the chocolate one from the vanilla!
So happy caking... ( I haven't bothered posting the Lemon Cream Cheese Icing recipe... as they really are all very similar... c-cheese, iccing sugar, butter and a touch of lemon juice... the recipe is everywhere on google)!